Kitty Rocks the House Page 27

“Give it up,” I said, smiling at him where he sprawled out in the backseat. “You’ve got family, might as well enjoy it.”

He grumbled, but he stopped arguing. By the time we all got back to the condo, he was asleep, and we had to wake him up to get him upstairs. Once inside, he parked himself on the sofa and promptly fell asleep again.

We let him alone.

* * *

IT WAS a little like having a bear in the living room.

The following morning, I ate toast and juice at the kitchen table, watching him, waiting for something to happen. In the painkiller fog, did he remember us bringing him here? How pissed off was he going to be when he woke up?

Ben emerged from the bedroom. “He still asleep?” he whispered.

“Yup,” I whispered back.

Ben joined me at the table, where we both sat staring at him.

“This is a territory thing,” I observed. I joked that Cormac was part of our pack, but he wasn’t wolf. He was sleeping in our den. He’d been to our place before, but he’d never slept over.

We watched him. He snored, faintly.

Ben said, “We really need to work on getting a house sooner rather than later.”

“A house with a guest room,” I said.

“Exactly.” Ben stood. “I’m going to make some coffee.”

“Think that’ll wake him up?”

“Dunno. I just need coffee.”

The smell hit the condo’s open living room as soon as the brew started dripping. Not much longer after that, Cormac squirmed and groaned. He tried to sit up, but his stiff muscles didn’t cooperate.

For a moment he lay still, blinked at the ceiling. Then he looked at his arm. “Fuck.”

“How you feel?” Ben asked.

“Stupid,” Cormac said. “Thirsty?” He sounded uncertain.

“Does it hurt? You want some of that medication?” I asked.

He thought about it. “Yeah, I’d better.”

Which surprised me. I expected him to tough it out, broken bone or no. Cormac-in-pain was an entirely new phenomenon. While I fetched a glass of water and the bottle of pills, Cormac managed to haul himself off the sofa and head to the bathroom. I didn’t bother offering to help; neither did Ben. He’d only snarl back. If he collapsed, then we could help. But he managed, somehow, and stumbled back to the sofa where he returned to horizontal and sighed.

I dragged a chair to the sofa to play nurse. Ben brought over another chair, his cup of coffee, and a second for me. With his good hand, Cormac popped the medication and took a drink from the glass I offered. We waited for him to say something; he scowled.

Finally, Ben said, “So. What happened?”

“I fell.”

I would have yelled, but Ben knew him better. “Oh no, that’s not going to cut it. What were you doing at the church?”

He adjusted his arm in the sling, grimacing at the awkwardness. “You know those magical protections? I wanted to see what it would take to set them off.”

“You poked the hornet’s nest,” I said flatly.

“Guess so.”

“And how did that work out for you?” Ben asked.

“Found the hornets,” he answered, grinning sleepily. “Any kind of offensive magic crosses the line, zap. The protections retaliate with some kind of fire-based magic. Anything else, mundane attack or passive magic, nothing. This tells us something.”

“That you shouldn’t poke hornet’s nests?” I said.

“This guy’s worried about something specific. He’s not worried about guys with stakes, or Girl Scouts selling cookies. He’s worried about a certain kind of magical attack, something that can be stopped with fire, and that’s what he’s defending against. I’m guessing he’s got a stalker out there who’s tangled with him before.”

“And that stalker is probably going to follow him to Denver,” I said, heart sinking.

“If he hasn’t already,” Cormac said.

“I need to tell Rick about this.”

Ben said, “I think we can assume that Rick knows, if he’s been talking to this priest guy.”

Maybe I just wanted to talk to Rick, to find out more about Columban. To find out what Columban knew about his stalker.

“I wouldn’t worry too much,” Cormac said. “It’s between the priest and whoever he pissed off. Shouldn’t bother the rest of us.”

“Back to your arm,” Ben said. “I’m assuming that when the magic went zap, that’s when you fell.”

Cormac gave his head a frustrated shake. “Stuck my arm out and bam. Hardin saw the whole thing. She’s asking way too many questions—she’s after the vampire, and she was following me to get to him. She could have just asked.” His words were starting to slur, the medication taking effect. He sank back against the mound of pillows under his back.

“Would you really have agreed to work with her if she did?” I said.

“Hell, no.”

“And what does Amelia think?”

“The word ‘idiot’ might have come up. Idiot, clumsy, oaf…”

“Easy for her to say, she doesn’t have a body,” Ben said.

“That’s what I told her.”

I said, “I meant about the magic, the boundary, the stalker?”

“Amelia’s the one doing most of the work. We don’t know anything about the stalker—just that the vampire’s worried about something, something he can beat with fire.”

And he was wanted for arson in Hungary, which meant he’d faced down this thing before. When he came to Denver, had he brought his enemy with him? It would be wishful thinking to say no.

“Do we need to worry?”

“Always need to worry,” he said, voice fading to a mushy whisper.

Ben patted his cousin’s good shoulder. “Get some rest, we’ll talk more later.”

Cormac was already asleep, slouched against the pillow on the sofa.

“It’s weird, seeing him knocked out,” Ben said.

“Yeah. But at least he’s okay. He’ll be okay.” No matter how bad things got, it always seemed like they could be so much worse. Had to keep that in mind.

“What are the odds he’ll let it go after this?”

I huffed a laugh—quietly, to not disturb our invalid. “The best we can hope is that the arm will slow him down.”

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